Whipped cream is arguably the world’s best dessert topper. It makes rich desserts feel light, fruit desserts feel rich, and hot cocoa feel extra special.
I have a soft spot in my heart for whipped cream because I used it to convince my very young children that I had magical powers.
I’d pour liquid heavy cream into a cold bowl then using just a whisk and a little effort my secret power was revealed—I could transform “milk” into sweetened whipped cream perfect for topping strawberries. They. Were. AMAZED! It’s one of my many superpowers as mom.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE WHIPPED CREAM
You don’t have to be mom, however, to make lovely creamy whipped topping at home. Just follow a few simple steps and you, too, can wow the masses (or all the 2-year-olds) with your mad whipped cream making skills.
First, know that perfect whipped cream can be soft or stiff, but it should never be loose or crumbly.
- The photo on the left is soft whipped cream. It spoons beautifully over a dessert, but it won’t hold its shape for long.
- The image on the right is over-whipped. You can see it looks crumbly.
Use the proper bowl
Heavy whipping cream will double in volume and it splatters a bit while you whisk it. The bowl needs to be large enough to accommodate the increase in size.
Keep everything cold
When cream is too warm, the fat loses its ability to stabilize with the air you’re whipping into it. It will still whip up, but not to the volume and texture you want it to, and it will likely deflate more quickly.
If you want to be cheffy about it, put the bowl and whisk in the freezer for 20 minutes before you want to whisk the cream. Keep the heavy cream in the refrigerator until you want to whip it up.
If you just want to make whipped cream, grab a bag of frozen vegetables out of the freezer and set your bowl on top of it. Add the whipping cream and whisk. You will have lovely whipped cream in minutes.
Use heavy whipping cream
Half-and-half and whole milk don’t have enough fat to whip. Note: Heavy cream and whipping cream are the same thing and can be used interchangeably!
When to add the sugar
Add the sugar when the cream is thickened, but still spoonable—just before the soft peak stage. If you add it too soon, it won’t whip as well. If you add it too late, the sugar granules won’t dissolve as well.
I like to use powdered sugar rather than granulated sugar for two reasons:
- First, the smaller particles dissolve faster in the cream.
- Second, the cornstarch in powdered sugar helps to stabilize the whipped cream, allowing it to hold its shape for longer and reduce weeping.
Watch your whipping!
Whipped cream goes from soft peaks to firm peaks to butter in the blink of an eye. For this reason, I usually whisk the cream by hand or use a hand mixer. I never use a stand mixer to make whipped cream because it’s easy to get distracted and walk away from the mixer (which I have done) then I end up with butter.
The rule of thumb here is to stay nearby and watch for changes. Once whipped cream is over-whipped there is no saving it. It will look dry, crumbly and unappetizing. (If you get to this stage, just keep whipping and make yourself some homemade butter! See below for more details.)
Personally, I prefer loose and droopy whipped cream most of the time, so I generally stop at the soft peak stage, but you can make your whipped cream as soft or as firm as you like it.
WAYS TO FLAVOR WHIPPED CREAM
Add the extract or flavoring during the last minute of whipping—if you add it too soon, it will deflate the whipped cream a little bit.
You can flavor whipped cream with almost anything.
- Add spices like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
- Make a grown-up version with a kick from rum or whiskey.
- Fold in pumpkin puree to give it color, flavor and body.
- Infuse it with herbs or spices by warming the cream gently on the stovetop with herbs and spices for a few minutes, then chill it in the refrigerator before whipping.
HOW LONG WILL WHIPPED CREAM KEEP?
Whipped cream can be made and kept for a day or two in the refrigerator. It will decrease in volume over time, but you can just whip it again. No worries.
HOW TO KEEP WHIPPED CREAM FROM “MELTING”
If it’s really hot outside or if you want the whipped cream to be firm enough to pipe, you need the whipped cream to be sturdy and long lasting at room temperature. To do this, you need to add a stabilizer. This can be done by adding liquefied gelatin, cream cheese, or mascarpone cheese to the heavy cream after it’s been whipped to soft peaks and the sugar has been added.
- If using gelatin, use a 1:3 ratio of granulated gelatin to water. Place 1 teaspoon of gelatin granules in a small bowl. Add 3 teaspoons of water. Stir to combine and microwave in 5 second bursts, stirring each time, until the gelatin has dissolved. Let it cool, but not set. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks, add the sugar and continue whisking, then slowly pour in the gelatin.
- If using cream cheese or mascarpone, replace the gelatin with 1/2 cup of either cheese.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU OVER WHIP YOUR CREAM
If you have over whipped it, you can undo what you’ve done—but don’t throw it away! Continue whipping it until the solids separate. You will end up with buttermilk and butter. Transfer the butter to a glass jar and store it in your fridge for a week. You can use it just as you’d use any butter or buttermilk.
RECIPES THAT COULD USE SOME WHIPPED CREAM!
Updated November 10, 2020 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the original recipe.